Water Affects Everything
Before you go crying “hyperbole,” think about it. What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and your tap didn’t work? What if there was no water anywhere in your neighborhood, not even at schools and businesses? What if no one within 3 hours of you (by any mode of transportation available to you) had safe drinking water? Would you start hiking with the biggest container you could find? Would you find the local river, polluted by industrial or agricultural run-off and sewage? While I’m sure you’re a resourceful person, you get the point: your agenda shifts when safe water is not available. If you’ve never had safe water, your life choices might revolve around where there is safe water available.
For almost 800 million people, this is life. While getting water is not the only step in getting people out of extreme poverty, it can be the first rung on the ladder.
Where there is safe water, children can attend school. Without safe water and sanitation nearby, children miss class while they fetch water from miles away, often with containers weighing over 40lbs. When they are sick with diarrhea, they miss school. When they are malnourished because of water-borne diseases and parasites, their growth is stunted and their learning inhibited.
Where there is safe water, women and children are safer. The journey to a far-away water source is often dangerous. Women and children are frequently at risk of assault, injury, drowning, or abduction by bad guys or animals. Where there is safe water and sanitation nearby, women and girls do not have to choose between enduring the indignity of not going in a private place or holding it until it causes pain and infection.
Where there is safe water nearby, families can earn a living. Over 40 billion hours are lost each year in Africa to fetching water. That’s more than the entire workforce of France. (Go ahead and insert a joke about the work force of France here. Cuz ‘Murica.) After recovering that time, people are able to grow food, get training, engage in light industry, or start their own small businesses. Moreover, if safe water were available to everyone today, about half of the world’s hospital beds would be emptied.
When safe water is provided in a way that includes, dignifies, and trains the people in the poor communities, they build off that success and get momentum to do more for themselves and future generations. With restored health and hope, they create their own opportunities.
Safe water doesn’t just save lives, it changes everything.